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May 5, 2008 | by  | in News | [ssba]

International student fees set to rise by two per cent

International student fees are set to rise by two per cent in 2009, following a motion passed at last week’s University Council meeting.

Only two of the Council members – Fleur Fitzsimons, who was elected by the Court of Convocation and VUWSA President Joel Cosgrove – voted against the motion.

Among the reasons cited for the increase were the challenging market and the performance of the New Zealand dollar. Pro Vice-Chancellor Rob Rabel said the increase was necessary to “maintain [Victoria]’s position as a quality university,” with prices remaining relative to other universities.

He also explained that “regular but modest” increases in fees were preferable to a “substantial” increase – a point concurred by Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh.

According to Walsh, international student fees “lagged” in 2006, and thus resulted in a considerable increase of 12 per cent for 2007. Following this increase, Walsh explained that there appeared to be an understanding within the Council that incremental changes of approximately two per cent could be anticipated from 2008 onwards.

The two per cent increase was accepted despite arguments made by VUWSA International Office William Wu. “Two per cent is [still] huge. International students pay four times [what domestic students pay].”

Wu added that the pressure that international students faced of working to cover living costs impacted their academic achievements. Are their fees subsidising research [or] domestic students?”

Cosgrove questioned where the revenue from international students was directed. “International students see themselves as cash cows.”

Rabel responded, saying that international students’ fees were worked through the general system, but cited staff extra contact hours and services that students generally required.

“The cost of teaching international students is complex. We are legally obliged to charge international students more than the fees paid by domestic students… [under the Education Act] the New Zealand taxpayer cannot subsidise international students unless they are exchange students,” he said.

Cosgrove and Fitzsimons both called for the consideration of “grandparenting” fees, whereby students pay a fixed amount in fees throughout the course of their degree, which would not be affected by fee increases.

Rabel said there were problems of equity and administrative costs involved with the option. However, a motion was passed for the preparation of a document on the issue by September.


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